Shale gas boom’s ripple effects on job market

natural gas fracking

If you’ve been paying attention, you’re aware that fracking has led to a domestic boom in the production of oil and gas, including places like North Dakota and Bakken shale formation. Naturally, this trend has created a number of jobs directly related to the oil and gas industry, but as populations explode in places like North Dakota with these workers, we’re naturally see a significant ripple effect as services are needed for these new workers. This goes far beyond just creating housing and other services. The economic ripple effect is great news for the American economy.

An example would be a company like Safety Oil Services, which is focused on helping “safeguard the wellbeing of employees and the natural environment within the high-growth sectors of oil and gas-related services, including drilling and fracking.” This is one of many companies that provides necessary services to this growing industry.

Also, the demand for workers goes well beyond those directly employed by the oil and gas companies and companies that service them. BusinessWeek has an interesting article on how the shale gas boom is bringing opportunities for women as well.

While men dominate North Dakota’s shale-oil industry, women in the region are starting complementary service businesses ranging from oil-well geology to occupational testing to day-care and medical clinics. “There are great opportunities for women,” says Kathy Neset, 57, president of Neset Consulting Service. “Whatever skill you have, we need it in western North Dakota.” Neset and her husband founded the geological services company in 1980 in Tioga, which is in the northwest part of the state. More than one-fifth of its 180 employees are women. Neset regularly gives presentations at elementary and middle schools in the upper Midwest, encouraging girls to pursue careers as geologists, where salaries range from $80,000 to $140,000 a year.

Naturally, this is having an impact on wages as well. Read the entire article for a great snapshot on how these job opportunities are expanding for everyone.

If you’re in a rut on your job search and you’re open to relocation, start researching the areas of the country that are booming due to the fracking boom. You don’t have to be an oil engineer or rig worker to find work!

Fracking heats up the job market

Fracking, also know as hydraulic fracturing, is pretty controversial among environmentalists. The process threatens groundwater, but then natural gas burns much cleaner than coal.

Another issue affecting the fracking debate involves jobs. With the natural gas boom fueled by fracking, we’re now seeing a ton of drilling for gas, and also oil, and that’s creating many jobs.

On the East Coast, abundant natural gas flowing from the Marcellus Shale formation, which runs through New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, is enriching farmers who lease their lands to production companies and is estimated to have created 60,000 jobs in the region, with another 200,000 possible by 2015.

Cheap domestic energy is also good news for the manufacturing sector. “The discovery and development of North America’s shale resources has the potential to be the most remarkable source of economic growth and prosperity that any of us are likely to encounter in our lifetimes,” U.S. Steel CEO John Surma told the Congressional Steel Caucus in a late March hearing. It’s a virtuous cycle: More drilling requires more steel, and lower energy costs give U.S. steel producers a cost edge. This at a time when the Department of Energy reports that the energy intensity of U.S. steel companies is now among the lowest in the world.

In St. James Parish near Baton Rouge, ground was broken last year for a $3.4 billion steel plant being built by Nucor Steel (NUE), the first major facility built in the U.S. in decades. U.S. Steel is investing in a new facility in Lorain, Ohio, and V&M Star Steel (the North American subsidiary of the French pipemaker Vallourec) plans to spend $650 million on a small-diameter rolling mill in Youngstown, Ohio.

It’s not just Big Steel that will benefit. Feedstock made from cheap natural gas is a boon for the petrochemical industry. Citing “the improved outlook for U.S. natural-gas supply from shale,” Dow Chemical (DOW) says it will build an ethylene plant for startup in 2017. (Ethylene is used to make things like plastic bottles and toys.) Dow will also restart its ethylene plant near Hahnville, La. Shell, which is building a new petrochemical refinery in Pennsylvania, is also considering a $10 billion Louisiana plant to convert natural gas to diesel. “Low-cost natural gas is the elixir, the sweetness, the juice, the Viagra,” says Don Logan, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. “What it’s doing is changing the U.S. back into the industrial power of the day.”

Studies show that fracking will support millions of jobs. Of course some will argue that green jobs are even better for the economy, and the environment, in today’s economy we can’t be too picky.

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